Incredible Minds

Learn From Harvey Milk's Communications Finesse Observations of a MoviegoerMy husband and I saw Milk last weekend, the astonishing biopic about gay rights activist, Harvey Milk.

The film works on multiple levels, illustrating Milk's personal journey from a closeted gay man to the first openly-gay elected public official, as it traces the evolution of a focused, organized gay rights movement. Incredible (but human, like the rest of us) man and an incredible story. See it.

Beyond this compelling story though was the back story of Milk's communications finesse. I sat in the dark scribbling down a few of the communications strategies Milk used regularly to dazzling effect:

  • Make a clear, succinct call to action, right up front. It'll frame the rest of the conversation.Harvey Milk introduced himself  to groups with, "I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you." (First heard in a 1978 speech)
  • Keep the issues front and center, personalities behind. Time and again, Milk moved attention back to what really mattered.. When attention kept turning his way, he responded: "I'm not the candidate. The movement is the candidate."
  • But humanize the cause by focusing on the lives affected, making the abstract real and accessible. "It's not an issues, it's our lives," said Milk.
  • Mobilize support for controversial issues through one-to-one relationships. Milk urged the gay community to come out, certain that once people knew their child or or cousin was gay, they'd "make a place for us in this country."
  • Use humor to navigate tight spots. Sometimes it's the only way to move through. When Milk met with a group of union members (big, tough guys) to build their support for his candidacy, his first words were, "You probably haven't met many people like me, so I left my heels at home."

P.S. When a powerful tagline is joined to a compelling mission…nothing is impossible! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Photo: Roberrific

Nancy Schwartz on December 10, 2008 in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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Ask Your Base to Make the World a Better Place, Without Spending a Cent The Give ListThe Give List, launched just last week by Allison Fine and Marnie Web, already lists 71 ways to support communities and causes without opening their wallets.

It's rough out there right now for all of us, but that means that other folks and organizations need our help more than ever. So incredible minds Fine and Webb put their heads together to shout out for ways gift givers can strengthen lives and communities.

What's great is that Fine and Web are putting Web 2.0 to work to brainstorm far and wide, and have already received some great ideas. Take a look at this eye-opening list of $0 helping ops from Lacey at the LA Chamber Orchestra.

Take 15 minutes today to brainstorm how your supporters can help your org even if they can't give a cent, then shout it out via your blog, site and e-news. Don't forget to add your ideas to the Give List by tagging your ideas with #givelist on Twitter, or with "givelist" (without the quotation marks) on de.licio.ous, your post or flickr photo so the Give List team can share them with the world.

Great job of seeing the bright side, Allison and Marnie, and crafting a network to inspire others to share their bright ideas for making the world a better place.

Photo: Kevin Eddy, Flickr

Nancy Schwartz on December 9, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Incredible Ideas, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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The Upside of the Downturnis incredible ideas.

I've finally taken off my coat, 1 1/2 hours after arrival at the office.

You see despite my best intentions, I couldn't resist diving right into all the incredible ideas delivered to me over the last 24 hours. (BTW, they come in automatically — once I subscribe to the blogs, sites, etc I want updates from — via my RSS reader. RSS readers are a Web-based, spam-free, quick and efficient way to read news you need. Once you take 3 minutes to watch this video, you'll be ready to set up your own reader.)

I've seen no stats on this, but it really seems that adversity is breeding innovation. The economy is in the toilet with life as we've known it gone for good, but I think it's spurred us to be more creative than ever.

There were so many incredible ideas, guidelines and models in my reader this morning that I've realized I have to share more of them. So I'm launching two new post types — Incredible Ideas and Incredible Minds. Watch the blog for introductions to some of the best minds and ideas out there, which I promise will teach, motivate and inspire you.

My first recommendation: If you don't have your RSS ready to go, do it NOW. My top picks are Google Reader and Bloglines. Then as you come upon blogs, sites or other resources you want to keep up with,  just subscribe to have new content sent to your reader. 

Nancy Schwartz on December 4, 2008 in Incredible Ideas, Incredible Minds, Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Web 2.0 | 1 comment
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